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Without a doubt, our day trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island was the highlight of our three day weekend in the coastal town.
There are so many reasons to recommend a day trip to Ugljan Island. I’m so happy we opted to get off the beaten path at this charming destination rather than head to the more popular Zrce beach or Kornati Islands.
If you’re considering a day trip from Zadar, I highly recommend heading to Ugljan Island – here’s everything you need to know to make it happen!
Swimming in a peaceful cove on Ugljan Island
How to Get to Ugljan Island From Zadar
I love this day trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island was because it’s just so easy. I’d already used up all my travel patience on the four-hour bus trip from Zagreb to Zadar, so I didn’t want to go anywhere that was too far.
We considered the Kornati Islands, but the all-day outings were expensive. We thought about taking a bus to Zrce Beach on Pag Island, but the tickets were 80 kuna / $12.50 usd per person and the ride was over an hour.
Finally, we just went to the Zadar Ferry Port and asked for the next boat out. When she told us it was to the town of Preko on Ugljan Island and only required a 20-minute boat ride, I was sold.
In fact, Ugljan Island is so close you can see it from Zadar! The port town that you’ll arrive in, Preko, is directly across the water from the city. Don’t let this fool you though, these two places are worlds apart in every other way.
To get to Ugljan Island from Zadar, check out the ferry timetable here and read it carefully because the schedule varies by month. Then, take an Uber to the ferry port and buy your ticket at the main office. Round trip tickets have an open return which lets you stay as long as you want and hop on any boat back that you’d like!
Enjoying the short 20-minute ferry ride from Zadar to Preko on Ugljan Island
Costs For a Day Trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island
Another reason why we chose this outing over other options like Zrce beach was that it’s affordable. Despite it’s close proximity to Zadar, Ugljan Island is mostly passed over by tourists so you can escape some of the ultra-high prices you find elsewhere on the coast.
On our day trip to Ugljan Island, we spent:
75 kuna / 12 usd for an Uber to and from the ferry port
72 kuna / 11 usd for two round trip ferry tickets
130 kuna / 20 usd for two 6-hour bike rentals from an agency in the main square.
38 kuna / 6 usd for some snacks at the small market (pastries, apples, water, etc.)
…and that’s about it. In total, our day trip from Zadar cost only $39 for a couple!
We brought a bottle of wine with us from Zadar and munched on some snacks throughout the day rather than eat at a restaurant. If you do want to get lunch or dinner on the island there are multiple restaurants to choose (but I’m unsure about the prices you can expect).
Ugljan Island is a nice escape from the crowded Zadar beach
What to Do on Ugljan Island
The best thing to do on Ugljan Island is rent a bike.
Daniel and I got off the ferry around noon and walked from the port to the town of Preko. This picturesque walk along the water and through a marina was beautiful and made me excited to see more of the island. While you can eat, swim, and relax in the town of Preko, I recommend exploring more with a bike rental!
Organizing it was super easy and we simply went to the tour and rental shop in the main square. The price was 65 kuna / 10 usd for a siz-hour rental and we got two. From here, we headed across the street and grabbed some pastries, apples, and another water bottle at the small Konzam Market and we were on our way.
There is a map of the island in the main square, and I recommend taking a picture before you leave. We decided to take the main road all the way from Preko to the town of Ugljan at the end of the island, but there are plenty of side trips you can choose instead.
The ride was about an hour and though it did have uphill it was nothing too strenuous. The views were beautiful and varied from rolling green hills to ocean views to red-roofed towns with church spires.
The town of Preko during our bike ride to Ugljan on the other side of the island
Finally, we arrived in the town of Ugljan and rode through it to find the most beautiful little swimming cove with an old church.
The water was clear and splashed in varying shades of blue. A few people dotted the shore and were jumping in off a docked boat, and all in all, it looked like every Mediterranean fantasy I’ve ever had came to life. No crowds, no stress – just a pier, a packed lunch, and a few hours to enjoy under the sun. It was much better than our less-than-stellar experience on the disappointing Zadar beach the day before.
We brought a bottle of wine with us and split it while swimming in the water and laying on the pier. We simply relaxed in Ugljan for a few hours until it was time to tackle our long bike ride back (it was easier than the way out, at least) and return our rentals.
One more pic of this absolutely gorgeous swimming spot to convince you to take a day trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island!
Then, it was as simple as checking the timeline for the next boat back to Zadar and boarding it for the trip at dusk. Because we visited Ugljan Island in the high season there were multiple ferry times to choose from. If you want to grab dinner or drinks in Preko before you leave you can stay until 10 pm or later most days.
I suggest taking the ferry back to Zadar during sunset because the trip is beautiful. Honestly, the views from the ferry on the way out and back alone were enough to make a day trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island worth the effort!
Views from the ferry on our ride back to Zadar at dusk
Bonus: Where to Stay in Zadar and on Ugljan Island
We stayed in Zadar on our trip but honestly a night or two on Ugljan Island could be really relaxing.
Apartment Blue Paradise is the top-rated hotel in Preko has a solid 10 out of 10 score on Booking.com (with only seven reviews, but still) while Apartment Zanov comes in a close second with a 9.5 review score. If you’re looking for something a bit more budget friendly, Apartment Tea is the cheapest hotel in Preko at $44 per night.
In Zadar, the Magic View Apartments are the top-rated in the city with a review score of 9.9 while the Lea Apartment is the cheapest hotel at $17 per night. For solo travelers, dorm beds at Tequila Bar Hostel and Hostel Dentex 4 You are $11 and $12 per night respectively.
Visit Ugljan Island With This Guide
Ready to see this lil’ piece of paradise for yourself?
This guide has everything you need to know for a perfectly simple day trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island. Skip the crowded Zadar beach and create your own (much more memorable) Croatian adventure with my day trip blueprint by your side.
Our bike ride across Ugljan Island and relaxing day at the beach was definitely the highlight on our trip to Zadar and I can’t recommend it enough! Enjoy!
Ready to go? Click here to book your stay in Zadar today!
Plan the rest of your trip with the Croatia Guide to learn how to get from Zagreb to Zadar, discover the best cheap restaurants in Zadar, and explore travel guides for other must-see Croatian destinations like Samobor and the Plitvice Lakes!